Woman dies after farewell to horse at Wigan hospital

Horse "kisses" dying patient Image copyright other
Image caption Sheila Marsh was granted her final wish of seeing her favourite horse Bronwen just before her death

A cancer patient has died after a final farewell to her favourite horse outside the hospital where she was treated.

Staff at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan granted Sheila Marsh's last wish, by arranging a visit from two of her horses on Monday afternoon.

The hospital said the 77-year-old, unable to speak properly due to illness, "gently called" her favourite horse, who then nuzzled her cheek.

Mrs Marsh, who used to work at Haydock Park Racecourse, died early on Tuesday.

The grandmother from Wigan had six horses, three dogs, three cats and other animals.

But after a farewell visit from one of her dogs last weekend, she told hospital staff of her wish to see her favourite horse Bronwen, who she had looked after for the previous 25 years.

They arranged for Bronwen and another horse to come to the hospital car park, where nurses wheeled Mrs Marsh in her bed.

Infirmary nurse Gail Taylor said: "The horse, Bronwen, walked steadily towards Sheila.

"Sheila gently called to Bronwen and the horse bent down tenderly and kissed her on the cheek as they said their last goodbyes."

Image copyright other
Image caption Hospital staff and relatives shed tears as Mrs Marsh said farewell to her horses

Mrs Marsh's daughter Tina said: "It was very important for my mum. She was one of the most hard-working people that you could meet and she would do anything for anyone."

Pauline Law, deputy director of nursing, said staff felt privileged to have been involved.

"This was obviously extremely important to [Mrs Marsh] and her family and we feel privileged to have been able to provide this support at this crucial stage of her care," she said.

"It is absolutely right that we should pull out all the stops to ensure that our patients and their families receive personalised, compassionate and dignified care at the end of their life and this is what we will always strive to achieve."

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